Public concerned for their safety while city officials coddle threats by protesters

Hundreds of protesters, many of whom were white college boys and girls, marched from the Bridge of Lions, down St George Street in St. Augustine, as participants in a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration held Wednesday, June 10.

Historic City News learned that the march was a response to the May 25th death of 46-year-old George Floyd who was killed by an officer from the Minneapolis Police Department while under arrest on counterfeiting charges on Memorial Day.  The arresting officer remained kneeled on Floyd’s neck even after Floyd was restrained and had stopped resisting.

A nine minute “die-in” followed the picketing and march that ended at the Plaza de la Constitucion.  According to published reports, the day’s activities were organized by Kyra Liedtke representing St. Augustine Black Lives Matter.

The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the First Amendment protects the right to conduct a peaceful public assembly — the operative word here being “peaceful”.

Many Historic City News subscribers have complained that assemblies like the above held in the Plaza Sunday are anything but “peaceful”. (Don Louis, Associate Editor)

The right to assemble is not absolute.  Government officials cannot simply prohibit a public assembly in their own discretion, but the government can impose restrictions on the time, place, and manner of peaceful assembly, provided that constitutional safeguards are met.

Time, place, and manner restrictions are permissible so long as they

  • are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech
  • are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest
  • leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information

Since none of the Black Lives Matter protests or demonstrations by sympathetic groups have been required to obtain a permit from the City of St Augustine, there has been scant opportunity to enforce published requirements contained in the municipal code of ordinances.